A New Sheriff in Town
On his first day of work for EEOC, Clarence Thomas secured a taxi to shuttle him to his new office. His destination was scarcely a landmark; both he and his driver, Thomas remembered, "had a hard time finding the agency." Eventually, they found the address— 2401 E Street N.W.—and pulled up alongside a high-rise, tan-brick government building that looked almost as if two Department of Education buildings had been stacked one atop the other like Lego blocks. The complex was called Columbia Plaza. Situated near the State Department in the Foggy Bottom section of Washington, the building offered a picturesque view of the Kennedy Center to the west and the Potomac River flowing lazily behind it.
The security guard in the ground floor proved his mettle by detaining Thomas for a while until his credentials were found to be in order. When he finally was admitted to his new office, Thomas found his quarters to be completely bereft of essentials such as pencils and writing pads. Most conspicuously and ominously, there was no chair. It was customary for government employees to raid the offices of their newly departed colleagues for desirable furniture and other such community property. To pick over the chairman's office, however, was another matter entirely. It was an indication of anarchy. Moreover, as one of Thomas's co-workers at EEOC noted, this theft was likely meant to send him a message.
Thomas was handed the reins to an agency with vast powers over the American workforce and economy. The commission was the chief entity in the federal government responsible for the enforcement of civil rights. EEOC enforced Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Subsequent federal legislation broadened EEOC's